Instruction: Master the downhill chip
January 15, 2014
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By Jarut Padung, Staff Instructor, TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass
Your approach shot runs through the green and comes to settle on an awkward downhill slope, leaving you with a delicate chip for your third shot. To get this shot up and down and save your par, you’ll need to set up and swing with the slope, resisting the urge to help the ball up in the air. Work with the slope, and you should find this shot no more difficult than a normal chip. Work against it, and you risk chunking or blading the shot into even more trouble. Here are a few keys to help you put the right touch on this finesse shot.
Setup: Match the Slope
Tilt your shoulders and hips to match the slope, so that they’re nearly parallel to the ground. Your spine should still be tilted slightly away from the target, and your weight should favor your left side. Set the clubface down square to your target, and then lean the shaft forward or back depending on the trajectory you desire — forward for a low shot, neutral to slightly back for a higher shot. Stand to the handle so that the butt end of the club points to your belt buckle, or the center of your body, and open your stance so that your feet point slightly left of the target.
If the lie is tight, lift the handle up a few degrees so that the heel comes slightly off the ground. This pulls the sharpest part of the club away from the ground and prevents you from digging. If you’re chipping from moderate rough, then lower the handle to its original position and open the clubface slightly to expose the bounce — i.e., the angle between the leading edge and the ground on the club’s sole. The higher the bounce, the more easily the club will slide through the grass.
Swing: Go With It
Your setup will dictate that you swing on a slightly more descending angle than a normal chip shot. Hinge your wrists up on the backswing so that the clubhead stays in line with your left forearm. Make sure to keep your legs and hips quiet and your center of gravity forward, or ahead, of the ball. If you move your head back behind the ball then you’re likely to get too handsy at impact.
On the downswing, feel as if you’re hitting the shot more with your upper body, turning your sternum through so it points well left of the target (i.e., parallel to your stance line) at the finish. It’s not enough just to turn it to the target because the hands will more than likely take over and cause you to flip the clubhead upward. Swing along your stance line and with the slope, maintaining the flex in your left knee and the bend in your right wrist through impact. Again, it’s very important that your sternum remains ahead of the ball and your weight continues to favor your left side. Allow your sternum to lead and the hands and club to follow; DO NOT lead with the lower body. Your weight should start left, stay left, and finish left.
Jarut Padung is a Staff Instructor at TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, on-the-spot club recommendations and 3D previews of each hole you play, download the TOURCaddie PRO app at www.pgatourcaddie.com.